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Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Day in the Life of an Event Planner

You would not believe how in love Yishai is with trussing. What’s trussing?

This stuff. Aluminum structures meant to hold things that need to be up in the air. And that’s really all their meant for, but Yishai loves the stuff. Why? He says it gives events the kind of “finish” they need.

See, when you get to an event, you’re more worried about hydration and registration and whether stuff is set up the way you need it to be than whether we have shiny aluminum around the finish arch, but at the same time, it sure looks good in those finish line photos. It’s also one of those subtle details, like when a gal with long hair gets a trim, the makes something look finished.

So what Yishai spends his days doing, for the most part, is dreaming up not only how an event is going to go, but what’s going to make it just that tiny notch higher than your expectations.

Take the Mud Mash, for example. We got a bag piper for the top of the hill. I was really worried that after all these obstacles that “the hill” would be kinda lame, so . . . voila. (That’s how you spell “wa-la”, in case you didn’t know). Just that little touch you weren’t expecting that we made awesome.

Sometimes it’s not the surprise, it’s just the feel. We’ve worked really hard to have a clean consistent feel with colors and design (that we do in-house) on everything. It’s simply not just the experience, but those touches that make us happy with our product.

So it’s 11:53 at night and that’s what we’ve been doing after a short break for dinner and some Bob’s Burgers (what an awesomely weird show).

Actually, that’s not true. Yishai met with the head ranger that we work with at the lakes, whom we like a lot (heck, we like everyone, head rec planners for SLO, head forestry, you’re all swell), negotiated the purchase of a bunch of kayaks for races, and worked on our climbing gym. And then he went out with our right-hand man, Blake Rowan to dig some mountain bike trails.

But what did I do? Well, I’m a part time English prof, so I spent part of my time today professing English. In between and after, however, I spent in the wonderful world of marketing. I’m kind of a jack of all trades – good at financial planning, business planning, but I LOVE me some marketing and promotions. But only if I love what it is I’m selling. And trust me, I do.

You see, All Out has been homegrown on our parts by self-funding and staying pretty broke while we grow events. We do it for the love, but as we’re getting more events, we need bigger numbers so we can pay staff (and ourselves) adequately to keep the morale high and professionalism where we want it.

Two ways I’m working on this (as this is my end of the team) is by obsessing about marketing and by preparing the Powerpoint-Of-My-Life.

See, there’s this thing called a "T-bid” in town, which is a self-imposed tax on the local hoteliers that use that money to give to folks like ourselves to promote events that bring out of towners in. We vaguely knew about it, but didn’t pursue it until this year. Maybe we are better organized, maybe stars are aligned, I don’t know. But basically, this one presentation we have to make could mean a huge inflow of cash for marketing and staff payment that takes us from “home grown” to truly top-notch professional. In the preliminary meetings, I mentioned that our Coast to Crest 24-hour race was flipping awesome promotion for the area and we need TV coverage but can’t afford to get it there and they were like, “Tell us more, please!”

So, yes, PowerPoint of my life. Good thing I teach and use PowerPoints every day.

The other half of the equation is learning your audience and giving them what they want and need. I do this by surveying, reading a gazillion marketing blogs, and thinking of ways to connect to my people, my lovely, athletic, outdoorsy, SLO county- and adventure-loving people.

So I made a marketing plan. I’m making a list, I’m checking it twice, and if I’m not naughty, the turnout should be nice.

In case you are interested in these blogs I read (amongst other books and such), here are a few of my favorites:


Event Manager Blog


Duct Tape Marketing

Seth Godin

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A little about SLO Alpha–the benefactor and host of SLO GranFondo!

I was thinking today about how cool it is to be benefitting such neat organizations in SLO county and elsewhere.

Check it out . . .

ALPHA from NCMG 2010 on Vimeo.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Endurance Live in San Diego

I got an ad soliciting space to the Endurance Live show in San Diego this weekend. Yishai attended last year and said it was pretty small and probably not really worth going.

This year, with the help of the ever intrepid Garret Bean, we got California Adventure Racing Association, Desert Dash, SB Timing, and Renegade Racing to team up with us to host a booth there. It was supposed to be bigger and better and we thought it would be a great way to promote AR and our other events.

But talk about information overload. Each of the directors wanted their stuff hocked, and there were only three of us. And very limited space.

I had a whole design concept on how to draw attention to the booth (and if that fails, I have fuzzy poi balls to swing around and swag to hand out), but more stuff = overstimulation. So here’s what the booth ended up looking like:


Here’s Yishai modeling its good looks. We were set up next to “Team Challenge” for colitis and Crohn’s disease and they didn’t have a lot of attractant for their booth so we gave them lots of Snickers Marathon bars to give away (people like freebies).

If you look at the sign to the right, you’ll see I did a little whiteboard thing, and it says, “Like TRI? Screw Ironman, try AR.”

Yishai did some on-the-hoof engagement and I guess that pissed off some of the tri folks, but the whole point of it was to engage them. Even if they’re mad, find out why we say that?

Why did we say that?

Well, if you are looking for less structure, more fun, and more adventure, AR can be very approachable. The 2-4 hour sprints can be done by most as long as you can ride a bike decently.

BUT, if you’re looking to do something rough? Nothing beats a good 12-hour race, and that’s just the start? We’ve had past Ironman finishers tell us that our races definitely beat that experience if you want it to.

Seems like AR is a great way to get people who are tired of the same ol’ to keep pushing it, and we’re trying to tap into that.

Anyway, it was pretty fun, if not tiring. We made some great connections, hocked AR to the hilt, and I think people were genuinely glad to see us there. I just hope that in the end, everyone involved makes a return on the investment we put in. Booths are not cheap. Not to mention the BS charges for unloading and loading stuff up.

Also, I used to be really tolerant of cities, but I’m not. Driving the event F250 around was a test of my nerves! I ended up driving around PETCO park like four times, and while it’s beautiful – I JUST WANT TO GET STUFF LOADED AAAAHHH!

Anyway, if you were there, please let us know how you liked our booth!


Garret and Kristin say “what up!”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Slideshow goodness

I am sitting here collecting photos for the slideshow that we’ll be showing at this weekend’s Endurance Live tradeshow in San Diego (booth 426, by the exit and bike demo) that we’ll be sharing with the California Adventure Race Association, Desert Dash, Renegade Racing, and SB Timing.

And as I’m looking at our photos, I’m just like, “Damn. It kills me that people have no clue how awesome this is.” That’s kind of why we want to go to the tradeshow, which is mostly focused on tris. We offer both more accessible races for tris and also far more difficult races than Ironmans. And WAY more fun, to boot. And in far more beautiful access points.

So I made a little slideshow for AR promotion in general.


I hope we make some good connections this weekend. AR is awesome.

That includes mud runs.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Just Another Day at the Office


Your intrepid race director and production manager went out with two of the area’s finest (Nate Lewis and Paul Bailey) to scout for trails for this year’s Ancient Peaks Mountain Bike Classic today. Left at 8:30, and after a few miles of asphalt and a few more miles of mud, rocks, and well . . . yours truly was kissing the ground by the time we got to the top of the road . . . we were on our way, hiking the fire breaks of the “ancient peaks” above the vineyard.


We left one 4-by at this cabin/lake combo and headed still higher up some gnarly terrain. Parking at a little turn around, we went up. And then we went down. And then we went up again. And then a lot more down. And then some more up.


Consulting the map before descending into the valley and then back up into the mountains/hills you see in the background.


And picking up probably 20 lbs of chantrelle mushrooms between us. Seems like maybe I should have a side job harvesting and selling them. Would pay more than my current gigs.

And with something like 10-12 miles done, Yishai thinks he is 100% sure what our cross country trail is gonna look like. Huzzah!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

SLO Gran Fondo Videos

A promotional video they made for the event:

Tour of the area with Team High Roads

You know an event is good if a ton of people made videos of the experience. And, did we mention it’s totally tax deductible. It’s like having fun and being awesome FOR FREE! And some other ones:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Some cool videos . . .

I post this stuff to facebook, but it should go here, too:

First up, our friend owns RitteRacing and he is making some pretty awesome marketing videos:

And this video is from, who we use for online event registry. A nice way to be inspired by what you and we do: